Zion Lutheran Church is gearing up for its annual bake and craft sale.

While folks from the area take advantage of the opportunity to purchase home-baked goods and homemade crafts, Jo Anderson said two items, in particular, cause an uproar.

“Tip Ronnekamp and I typically can red cinnamon cucumber pickles, and we will sell 100 or more pints of those a year,” said Anderson. “We always place the pickles and the rye bread in the very back corner to get people to look at everything on their way to get those two items before we run out.”

The bake sale will be from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 16 at the Gothenburg Senior Center, 410 20th St.

The church has hosted the bake and craft sale since 1992, and Anderson said over the years more than $65,000 has been raised.

“Every year, we designate at least 25% of our proceeds to go to benevolence projects. The Senior Center has been one of our recipients over the years as well as many other local needs,” said Anderson. “Some years, we have given 50-100% to some of our members with medical needs or one year to one who had lost a house. The remainder has been used to update our building and parsonage. The funds are all spent locally.”

Both Anderson and Zion Lutheran Church pastor the Rev. Carol Mapa said they are proud of what the sale has accomplished, given the fact that the congregation is small. Only 15-20 women provide baked and craft items for the sale.

“Our average attendance (at church services) is about 30 total people,” said Anderson. “We do have 20 youth in Sunday School, but they do not all stay for worship. Even when we had our first sale in 1992, our attendance was about 40-50. A sale of this size would not be out of the question for a large church, but we are very small. We are very grateful for the community support we have received because it has been very good.”

She also commended the group of women who bake the goods for the sale.

“What is so neat about that little group is that several of the ladies are not even members of Zion, but still they contribute because they are also members of our quilting group,” Anderson said. “We have men that put out the posters, do the setup and clean up, and one guy even makes several pounds of fudge to sell.”

Anderson said the idea for the fundraiser was born when the church needed new carpet.

“A church in North Platte was holding a cookie sale fundraiser, so I pitched the idea at our church of doing a bake and craft sale. We had more crafts the first couple of years, but that sort of wore off, and now it is closer to 99% baked goods,” she said.

It took about five years to raise the money needed for the carpet, said Anderson.

“And we had enough money left over to remodel the kitchen in the church.”

In addition to the sale, Mapa said the church also hosts a coffee hour.

“It’s traditionally been on opening day of deer season. We serve free coffee and charge a dollar for a cinnamon roll to go with it. The coffee hour provides good fellowship,” said Mapa.

The coffee time is not the only fellowship opportunity that comes from the annual sale. Anderson said about 10 years ago, a group of women came together to learn Esther Hinze’s secrets for making kolaches, those fruity puff pastries.

“Esther used to make kolaches that were so good that people were waiting at the door to buy them as she drove up to unload her car. After her health declined, several ladies of the church started getting together to have a baking day trying to emulate her tasty goods, but we have never quite measured up,” said Anderson.

Mapa said Zion Lutheran receives assistance from Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit financial services organization founded by Lutherans.

“I would be remiss not to recognize Thrivent for providing seed money for us through Thrivent Action Team Funding. Those funds must be used for fundraising, educational or outreach programs. So we can use that for advertising and promotion, and that sort of thing,” she said.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.536.6499